Sunday, November 30, 2008

The quickest path

The quickest path to self-realization is to take on a job as counselor to 10 middle school campers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

So they say

Darwin's lovers are alive and well.  Here are two samplings:

"[T]he way in which Darwin put together evidence and argument in On the Origin of Species marked a definitive break, and an undeniable beginning. The book, 149 years old this week, provided for the first time a way of reconciling life's past and present — a way to explain both the staggering diversity of life and its fundamental unity.
That view of life has been enriched and strengthened in the intervening century and a half, and will continue to be so. But the coming decades could also see Darwin's purview expanded in fundamental ways. The discovery of the universality of the genetic code in the 1960s — the same in elephants and E. coli, as the French molecular biologist Jacques Monod famously put it — magnificently bore out Darwin's view that life is united in a common descent. But that need not remain the case.
"An even more likely development is that life will be created de novo here on Earth. The first experiments in whole-organism synthetic biology, such as the synthetic mycoplasma being worked on at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, will cleave quite closely to the designs already developed by natural selection. But there are already schemes for going further — for using different genetic codes, for example. Although the synthesis of complex organisms might remain the stuff of fantasy for some time (see page 310), new ways of building self-replicating, one-genome, one-cell organisms seem quite plausible. The development of creatures born from an idea, not an ancestor, will undoubtedly provide new insights into evolution, not least because the proclivities of such creatures to evolve will need to be kept in check."

Author not listed.  From "Beyond the Origin."  Nature 2008, 456, 281.

That article quotes from Theodosius Dobzhansky's essay "Nothing In Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution."

"Shiek bin Baz and his like refuse to accept the radiometric evidence, because it is a 'mere theory.' What is the alternative? One can suppose that the Creator saw fit to play deceitful tricks on geologists and biologists. He carefully arranged to have various rocks provided with isotope ratios just right to mislead us into thinking that certain rocks are 2 billion years old, others 2 million, which in fact they are only some 6,000 years old. This kind of pseudo-explanation is not very new. One of the early antievolutionists, P. H. Gosse, published a book entitled Omphalos ("the Navel"). The gist of this amazing book is that Adam, though he had no mother, was created with a navel, and that fossils were placed by the Creator where we find them now – a deliberate act on His part, to give the appearance of great antiquity and geologic upheaveals. It is easy to see the fatal flaw in all such notions. They are blasphemies, accusing God of absurd deceitfulness. This is as revolting as it is uncalled for..."

"Is there an explanation, to make intelligible to reason this colossal diversity of living beings? Whence came these extraordinary, seemingly whimsical and superfluous creatures, like the fungus Laboulbenia, the beetle Aphenops cronei, the flies Psilopa petrolei and Drosophila carciniphila, and many, many more apparent biologic curiosities? The only explanation that makes sense is that the organic diversity has evolved in response to the diversity of environment on the planet earth."

It is crucial to note each author's "point of departure," the point where they stop collecting information, and begin voicing their worldview.  For example, Dobzhansky notes the incredible complexity of living beings.  He poses, then answers, his own question: "Why the diversity?"  He attempts to pass his worldview off as the only reasonable option.  But is he right in making this assumption?  Merely ridiculing others' positions is not enough to discredit them.  While Dobzhansky rejects the explanation that P.H. Gosse puts forward, he does so with a mere wave of the hand, and no rigorous explanations.  Has he become the spokesperson of God?  Or is he projecting his own preferences, assumptions, and prejudices onto God?  After all, God did create a mature man and woman, not a defenseless pair of babies.  Is God biased against the thought of a mature creation, or is Dobzhansky?
    Similarly, note the point of departure in the article from Nature.  All known organisms' genetic information is encoded in DNA.  This means... there!  The point of departure!  The evolutionist writing the article will now interpret the facts for his readers, and his interpretation will be consistent with his worldview.  I wonder if the author recognized the point of departure as he wrote it.  Did he recognize his transition from observation to interpretation?  While the author believes that the discovery and characterization of DNA "magnificently bore out Darwin's view that life is united in a common descent," I know that this is simply the author's opinion.  And yet, all too often, evolutionists lump fact and opinion, observation and interpretation.  Because of this, many people view DNA as evidence for evolution.  But does the universality of the genetic code necessarily point to common descent, or is it possible that it points to a common Designer?
   I am convinced that the latter case is true.  But I understand that not everyone will interpret the facts as I do.  Whether or not you agree with my assessment, critically analyzing the writings of authors writing about evolution (or any other topic) will be instructive.  The more you clearly demarcate observation and interpretation, the better you will understand the characterization and motivation of the authors you read.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fear not that, but this

Fear not the nameless terrors of the night:
the muted "bump" heard only out of fright,
the purple, lurking monsters who abide
in magazines and minds.
Fear not these vaporous fancies that dissolve,
but those who live their lives without resolve,
whose tears, and jabs and labs become thy life:
thy undergrads, thy strife.

(inspired by a friend's gchat status)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Calvinball, but twisted

Tuesday's result was hugely disappointing to me. Even though one liberal woman I was watching the election with said "I think this election is a referendum on intelligence and education," I beg to disagree. My desire is that the Republican party would take this as a referendum on their choice of candidates. And I don't mean Palin, bless her heart. I mean McCain. Granted, I did call voters and urge them to vote for McCain/Palin. But I said the name "Palin" much more energetically than I said "McCain." If Republicans want a victory, they need to nominate a candidate that can lead us to victory. We've got four years to find a man or woman who knows the issues (abortion, homosexuality, radical Islam, slavery-through-welfare, edemic government abdomens, indoctrination-masquerading-as-education, etc.), and who knows how to answer them. Four years. Let's start now.

What got me as I watched the news "analysis" was the myopic view of history that the talking heads in the mainstream media demonstrated. If I didn't know better, I'd think that the first president of the U.S. was George W. Bush, not George Washington. I'd also be led to believe that W.'s only race was the one held four years ago. CNN had a tricked out computer screen that allowed gleeful acolytes to compare the current election returns to Bush and Kerry's returns in 2004. The announcer would (for about 1.5 seconds) try to assume a solemn air as he announced that McCain wasn't doing nearly as well as Bush had done four years ago against Kerry. But his act never worked. It was just too obvious that his mirth and joy was uncontainable, even as he tried to maintain his serious face. (The amusing result, for me at least, was that this announcer unintentionally showed the people watching that Bush had done a notable job of garnering votes four years ago. Mercy me! How did that information leak out! Bottle up the information ports! That stuff's dangerous! Maybe four years from now, we won't even be expected to remember the opposition candidate's name. We'll just be told how The Magnificent One swept the polls, as we all went out and voted our hearts out for Our Victorious Leader. Will anyone recall just how close this race was? From a certain point of the campaign on, Obama, his aides, and many in the mainstream media were taking it for granted that Obama was going to win. And by a wide margin. A guy I work with who's from China commented the next day that he was suprised at close it was. From what he had heard, he had no idea that McCain had anywhere near the votes that Obama had. Let me just say that as far as Obama's returns go, for someone who is supposedly so adept at "bringing us together," he's done a pretty poor job of it so far!

The good news is that it showed me undeniably that all the Marxist-Leninists' viciousness about the electoral college is out the window when they're getting what they want. Somehow when their own candidate is winning by a pathetic number of the popular votes, they're out there clinging to the electoral college tighter than we cling to our guns and religion.

My mom mentioned that she's happy that we don't have to go through any riots. As she said, can you imagine what would have happened if Obama hadn't won? There would have been rioting in the streets.

I don't doubt that. But I see a consistent picture of spoiled-brat Marxist-Leninists who change the rules or lash out in violence when they don't get their way. Sure, the baby looks happy now that he's got his candy and his fist to suck on. But you should see him when he doesn't get what he wants!

Let's look at what Marxist-Leninists were saying before the latest election. There wasn't a lullaby playing, let me tell you. The words in their tune went like this:

"The Gallup Poll reported in 2001, 'There is little question that the American public would prefer to dismantle the Electoral College system, and go to a direct popular vote for the presidency. In Gallup polls that stretch back more than fifty years, a majority of Americans have continually expressed support for the notion of an official amendment of the U.S. Constitution that would allow for direct election of the president.'"

George C. Edwards III, leading scholar of the U.S. Presidency
Edwards, George C. III (2004). Why the Electoral College is Bad for America. p. xvi. Yale University Press.

"Every citizen's vote should count in America, not just the votes of partisan insiders in the Electoral College. The Electoral College was necessary when communications were poor, literacy was low and voters lacked information about out-of-state figures, which is clearly no longer the case."

Rep. Gene Green, (D-TX)
Raasch, Chuck (24 Sept 2004). "Electoral College debate intensifies." USA Today.

"All-or-nothing systems disenfranchise millions of voters and prompt campaigns to focus solely on closely contested states. This year, the candidates are ignoring two-thirds of the states because all of the electoral votes in each appear safely in one or the other's camp. So certain an outcome discourages turnout in those states as well. Though the system dates back to the 19th century under laws adopted by each state, it doesn't have to be that way. Certainly, the U.S. Constitution doesn't require it."

USA Today
USA Today. (19 Sept 2004). Editorial/Opinion. "States can make Electoral College more democratic."

You can read more of these quotes. I'm not faulting Marxist-Leninists for being disappointed in the past two elections when their candidates didn't win. That's natural. I'm faulting Marxist-Leninists for their "if I can't-win-by-the-rules-we-gotta-change-the-rules" mentality. This mentality is abundantly clear this year. If I was still hearing some questioning of the electoral college this year, I'd actually give some Marxist-Lenininsts some credit. It would show that they are objecting to the electoral college on principle. But that's a joke.
Now I realize that Obama won both the electoral college vote and the popular vote. So there's not the contrast as there was in 2000 when Bush won the one that mattered -- the electoral college vote -- and not the one that didn't matter -- the popular vote. But Obama barely squeaked by with the popular vote win. And no Marxist-Leninist cared enough to say "every vote counts!" and actually wait for a majority of the votes to be counted before calling a state or calling the race, or even waiting for less influential states to have their returns tallied. Why? Because Obama was ahead in the electoral college. Where's the outrage from George Edwards III and Gene Green?

I realize that Obama is the president-elect of this country and I am not challenging that. I am standing against manipulation, misrepresentation, and myopathy. I am standing for a detailed understanding of history and human nature. I want to know where God stands on this, and stand with Him. As for me and my house, we're going to serve the Lord.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

An all-fired hurry

We're so often reminded that "every vote counts." If this is the case, then why were Andersen and friends at CNN so all-fired hurried to call states for Obama before a good percentage of that state's votes were counted?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Stupid ideas

    At one point, I really thought that I could be perfectly happy being holed up in my apartment with just my books.  Fortunately, I didn't have to try that as an experiment to realize how stupid that thought was.
    Which brings me to my point.  Some thoughts are stupid.  Some thoughts are not.   Reasoning is the process of rejecting the stupid thoughts and searching out the wise ones.  Stupid thoughts are the ones that are more likely to ring the doorbell of your life.  Worse yet, they're in the habit of walking in the front door unwanted and starting stupid conversations that unfortunately interest you.  All the while, it's those wise thoughts that often stand bashfully on the sidewalk, wanting to knock timidly on your door, but unsure of your reception of them.  By all means, lock out the stupid thoughts, and welcome in the wise ones!
     Given today's philosophy of "anything goes," and the daily emphasis of "inclusiveness," I thought it was time for a little clarification.

What's more important to you: diversity/inclusiveness or discernment?  Compare the following quotes.

[Quote 1]  "Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate."  -- Chuang Tzu

[Quote 2]  "So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" -- Solomon